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Montana doctor found guilty in overdose deaths of 2 patients

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HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) –  A western Montana pain doctor was found guilty Monday of 22 felonies, including two counts of negligent homicide for the overdose deaths of two of his patients.

Chris Christensen, 69, also was found guilty of 11 counts of criminal distribution of dangerous drugs and nine counts of criminal endangerment. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 27.

Prosecutors alleged Christensen overprescribed opiates and other drugs in dangerous combinations and should have known his prescribing practices were dangerous because five of his patients in Idaho died in the 1990s and six others were hospitalized because of overdoses.

He was charged with the deaths of Greg Griffin and Kara Philbrick-Lenker in Montana.

Defense attorney Josh Van de Wetering argued Christensen was a compassionate physician who prescribed drugs to ease patients’ suffering.

The Montana Board of Medical Examiners revoked Christensen’s medical license in January 2016 for practicing medicine while his license was suspended.

His clinic was raided in April 2014 and his license was suspended.

He was issued a probationary license in May 2015, but was not allowed to treat pain patients and required him to work under the supervision of another physician.

The board found he later wrote several prescriptions without seeing patients and without supervision.

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